Infrastructure Inspection is Evolving with Drones and AI

The infrastructure industry has faced major challenges in recent years due to aging critical infrastructure. Take bridges, for example. Data from the ASCE shows that 42% of bridges in America are at least 50 years old, and 7.5% are considered structurally deficient.

Critical pieces of our society’s infrastructure require maintenance and eventually must be replaced, but there is a growing maintenance backlog. Due to increasing climate changes, experts project we will experience more infrastructure failures throughout the 2020s and 2030s.

There is an urgent need for more efficient, accurate inspections, and that’s where artificial intelligence (AI) and drones can help.

Manual Infrastructure Inspection is Costly and Time-Consuming

Traditional infrastructure inspection methods rely heavily on personnel to complete the inspection, which comes with risks. Inspectors’ abilities to capture asset data are often hindered due to environmental factors, like great heights and hazardous weather elements. The necessary manpower and resources (i.e., scaffolding) can pose additional risks and are costly.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that fixing our nation’s degrading infrastructure will cost $4.5 trillion.

In response to this crisis, many asset owners have turned to technology in search of solutions. With so much at stake, experts claim there is a dire need for digitizing infrastructure assets to streamline the inspection process. By leveraging the power of drones and AI, infrastructure asset owners can streamline their inspection processes and set a new standard with the latest technology.

Photogrammetry, AI, and Drones are Helping Inspectors with Infrastructure Inspection

Drone capturing asset data for infrastructure inspection.
Drone capturing asset data for infrastructure inspection

Drones and AI have been gaining traction in the infrastructure inspection field. Since drones can capture high-resolution images and critical data from hard-to-reach places, they are a powerful tool for inspectors.

Using drone inspections can reduce human error, which is a big concern with visual inspection methods. Research shows that traditional inspection errors typically range from 20% to 30%.

Drones are being integrated with AI and machine learning algorithms, helping create highly accurate 3D modeling for infrastructure inspectors. With enhanced data collection and high-quality asset data, inspections can be completed safely, efficiently, and at a much lower cost.

Photogrammetry is majorly responsible for making these exciting advancements possible. Photogrammetry is the science of making reliable measurements by extracting 3D data from photographs. This is done by taking overlapping images of structures or spaces and converting them into 2D or 3D digital models.

As photogrammetry and AI are applied to infrastructure inspections, changes in structural conditions can be tracked over time, giving asset owners an upper hand in predicting future rehabilitation.

Using the gNext Platform’s finetuned photogrammetry engine and advanced inspection tools, turning image data into actionable inspection models is now a breeze.

Engineer piloting a drone for inspection of a construction site
Engineer piloting a drone for inspection of a construction site

How gNext is Contributing to the Future of AI Infrastructure Inspection

The gNext Platform is an AI-powered digital mapping and analytics software for inspections and surveys. This tool allows inspectors and asset owners to visualize their drone-captured data and gather valuable analytics in a secure, scalable, and shareable environment.

gNext securely combines drone, vehicle, or manually collected data with AI and 3D modeling to assist in the inspection process. This cloud-based SaaS platform provides inspectors access to digital models and original images or video, enabling them to analyze assets safely, accurately, and collaboratively from a remote location.

Originial bridge inspection image collected via drone.
The gNext Platform: Original Drone Image
The gNext Platform: AI Detecting and Quantifying Cracks, Spalling, and Efflorescence
The gNext Platform: AI Detecting and Quantifying Cracks, Spalling, and Efflorescence

With an underlying AI engine, gNext is future-proofing the inspection automation process by supporting digital and remote inspection and analysis.

Artificial Intelligence is incorporated into everything we do at gNext, and it’s one of the things that makes our platform unique. AI filters out noise in digital models, highlights, and quantifies specific features of interest, and assists our customers in making more accurate inspections. Only gNext has AI that detects features and quantifies them through measurements and other means.

What’s Next for gNext’s AI Features

Currently, our AI engine assists asset owners by identifying defects that otherwise would’ve gone undetected. When programmed with specific algorithms, AI can automatically extract visual information about the condition of critical infrastructure and present the data to inspectors.

This enables asset owners to address any issues promptly, which helps prevent catastrophic events. These functions are beneficial in numerous applications, such as performing routine infrastructure inspections for large or complex structures and conducting inspections after disasters when time is precious.

gNext software screen capture of telecom infrastructure inspection
The gNext Platform: Telecom Infrastructure Management — Image Inspection

As a result, gNext users can seamlessly document, assess and monitor the condition of a wide variety of infrastructure assets using accurate 3D, mesh, and point-cloud models. Machine learning and computer vision provide the right data to make inspection reviews more efficient.

gNext is focusing on expanding its catalog of AI solutions to detect and quantify various defects and objects across a diverse range of asset types and materials, including buildings, roads, bridges, dams, towers, and cooling towers. The goal is to address each asset’s unique challenges and requirements, providing tailored solutions that enable efficient and accurate inspections.

Additionally, gNext allows customers to visualize how assets and projects perform with change-over-time model technology, providing valuable insights into the progression of defects and other issues.

This innovative approach allows for proactive maintenance by identifying potential problems before they escalate, saving time and resources. By facilitating data-driven decisions, stakeholders can optimize maintenance planning and resource allocation, contributing to structures’ overall longevity and safety.

Studying defects and their progression also helps engineers and maintenance teams understand the root causes, enabling the development of more effective preventive measures and maintenance strategies.

Overall, the gNext Platform enables inspectors to make sound operational and maintenance decisions with less risk, less time in the field and reduced overall inspection costs. This means less disruption and more productivity and profitability for asset owners. gNext can help asset owners improve the quality of life in our society by providing more accurate and reliable data.

Learn More about Digitizing Inspections with gNext

gNext is changing the game for infrastructure inspectors with AI and drone imaging software for inspections.

Our number one goal at gNext is to create safer, more sustainable infrastructure around the world by partnering with inspectors and surveyors, civil engineers, and those who own or service assets of infrastructure, transportation, energy, telecommunications, insurance, and more. Stay tuned for more updates on the gNext Platform and AI.

You can follow us on LinkedIn to stay in the loop. In the meantime, request a demo to see our current AI capabilities!

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